Oklahoma’s Board of Regents approve downscaled stadium renovations

Wednesday, Mar 11, 2015

Oklahoma’s Board of Regents approved the first phase of the Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium building project Wednesday, which includes design and developmental elements worth $160 million.

The facet of the project will focus on bowling in the south end zone as well as adding new suites and club seating.

The original plan presented last summer, which including renovations to the west-side deck and press box as well as improvements to stadium infrastructure, was to cost $350 million.

Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione and the regents agreed to split the stadium project into two phases, with the first phase to be completed by the beginning of the 2016 football season.

Oklahoma President David Boren cited falling oil prices as the reason behind scaling back stadium renovations for the time being.

“In one week, half of the net worth of our major donors was wiped out by the falling oil prices,” he said. “You’re sitting there, somebody’s worth however-many millions dollars…three days later, they’re worth half that. That’s exactly what happened.”

During the meeting, Boren described the new plan as “focused and frugal” and said none of the stadium funding would come from state or tuition dollars.

“This entire project is being funded through private sources, athletic department capital funds and bond funds,” Castiglione said.

Castiglione said the bonds will be funded through ticket revenue, which will provide $5 million per year, conservatively. Higher ticket prices from suites and club seats will add an additional $12 million.

“We’re going to have tough times with the university budget, tough times with a lot of our fans,” Boren said. “I needed to be able to say to the state government, ‘Not one penny.’ I needed to be able to say to the students with their tuition money, ‘Not one penny from you.’”

The stadium capacity, currently at 82,112, will increase to more than 84,000 after phase one. The new south end zone structure will feature 22 suites, 60 open-air loge boxes and 1,976 club seats.

However, future building projects and adjustments to seat width and handrails could bring the new number back down to present-day levels.

The new building space will allow for student-athlete services to be moved to the ground floor. The space will include a new locker room, strength and conditioning room, training room, nutrition center, meeting rooms and the equipment operation. Student-athletes from all 21 Oklahoma programs will benefit from the new center, according to the press release. The weight room will triple in size to 26,600 square feet and include a 70-yard turfed speed and agility training area.

“Our efficiency improves greatly in this new layout,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said in a press release. “The players will have access to essential services all within a few steps of each other in a facility that will be among the best in the country. The impact it will have on our recruiting will be significant. This entire project is a tremendous help to our program.”

As for the second and final phase of the stadium project, Boren could not speculate as to when construction would begin.

“I don’t know when the second bite might come,” he said. “When will oil prices recover? We had to make the decision to do this in phases that week the oil prices went down. Maybe when the oil prices get back up and stay stable for a while and the economy is back on its usual footing, that’s when we’ll make a decision about the second phase.”


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